WEEK #36: TRACEY FERGUSON
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, I am Tracey and here is a little bit about me….
I have always loved competing. Being the youngest of six kids, who all played sports, it was very natural for me to follow their path into sports. But more than that, we were always encouraged to go outside and play, riding bikes, making up games with a tennis ball or playing tag, or even just exploring the park. My competitiveness made for a good fit with sport. As a young kid, I loved swimming and thought I would be an Olympic swimmer and win a gold medal for Canada! After a paralysis happened when I was 9 1/2 years old, that dream seemed like an impossibility. My love of sports however, didn’t go away.
I was very fortunate to find out about Variety Village when I was 12 years old, where they offered sports for athletes with a disability. On my first visit to the gym, I tried everything, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair racing and wheelchair basketball. I was hooked! I did all three sports at the beginning, but it was basketball that became my passion. It made almost no sense for me to pick basketball, I am short, I could not make a basketball at the beginning, I was the only girl at the training….but somehow, I knew I could get better. I loved the team aspect, playing with friends, challenging myself to be better in other ways because I was never going to be a giant, so I had to be smarter, faster, become a better shooter. With hours of work and lots of sweat, my dream of representing Canada became a reality! I competed in basketball from 1991 to 2017, competing in 7 Paralympics, 5 World Championships.
Later in my athletic career, I got back into wheelchair racing. People thought I was crazy to explore a new sport but it was the challenge I loved. It was totally different. An individual sport, where everything was on me. And again, I was not very good at the start, but I worked and worked and worked until I made the Canadian National Team in a second sport and competed in the 2008 Paralympics in Athletics.
I wrapped up my national team career in 2017 but found I was not done with sport. I took up handbiking and have done the Berlin and Heidelberg Marathons. I started thinking about competing in cycling but then it hit me, I liked cycling but I just wanted to enjoy the sport, not go out there to compete every day. So now, I am happily biking, for fun, like back when I was a kid! Now I go out for rides, sometimes on my own, sometimes with friends and sometimes with my husband.
Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced.
I think having a disability as a young kid, there are clearly physical barriers (stairs, broken elevators etc) that are barriers but the ones that really bothered me were when people start to treat you differently. They lower expectations of you, they tell you that “you can’t do” things, or even that there is no place for you or you do not belong.